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Ask Tufts Experts October 2016 Issue

Q. How much sugar in cold cereal is too much?

A. Angela Goscilo, a dietetic intern at Tufts' Frances Stern Nutrition Center, answers: "Many cold breakfast cereals contain a lot of sugar, especially those marketed to children. Be a smart consumer by reading the Nutrition Facts panel as well as the ingredient list. Look for cereals that do not list sugar as one of the first few ingredients. Remember that sugar can be listed in different terms, such as brown sugar, corn syrup, dextrose, cane sugar or honey.

"Next, check the Nutrition Facts panel for the amount of sugar. Aim for cereals that contain no more than four to six grams of sugar per serving, which is about one to one and a half teaspoons of sugar. Finally, determine what percentage of the serving size is sugar. To do so, divide the amount of sugar in grams by the total serving size, in grams, and multiply by 100. Look for cereals that are no more than 20% sugar. If sugar is your main concern, consider other breakfast options like plain yogurt, low-sugar cereals or unflavored oatmeal."

The sugar content of cereals with dried fruits, like raisins, may also be higher, Goscilo adds. But these natural sources contribute a variety of nutrients, unlike added sugars.

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